Five common workflow automation myths

Is your company embracing workflow automation? Or are you missing the benefits it offers thanks to one of these five common misconceptions?

The. term ‘workflow automation’ describes the design, execution, and automation of different processes, based on workflow rules. In workflow automation, files, data or human tasks are channelled between people or systems, decided by pre-defined business rules.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that automation is an ‘all or nothing’ situation. You either have process that are completely man (or women!) made and run, or entirely automated, machine driven systems. But as we’ll soon discover, the reality is that workflow automation relies on the input of both humans and machines.

For many businesses, workflow automation is a dream comes true as it speeds up processes, reduces labour costs and limits the hassle of managing paperwork. It also better enables them to account for workers’ input and effort on assigned tasks.

However, other businesses have been slow to conduct workflow analysis and adopt workflow automation into their every day business practices either due to lack of awareness as to what is on offer, or fear of embracing new ways of working and technologies.

In this article we’ll explore five of the biggest misconceptions around workflow automation – myths that may be preventing businesses from reaping the benefits of it.

The five biggest workflow automation myths

So here they are – the five biggest workflow automation myths, and why they are wrong.

1) Workflow automation replaces or negatively impacts human jobs

Probably the biggest myth around workflow automation is, as mentioned, that it is designed to replace human labour. Or that implementing it will just cause MORE work for people.

But this simply isn’t true. The point of workflow automation is to make it easier and quicker for people to complete their necessary tasks. The technology is designed to take some manual tasks off employees and make it quicker to compete others. But workflow automation cannot operate alone – it relies on people to initiate or carry tasks still.

It’s also intended to save time and effort, not make work harder. So while it may require time to initially set up, implement and learn, once it’s up and running a workforce should be able to work more efficiently.

2) It will completely transform your business environment into automation

This myth is directly connected to the first. Some people fear that once a company adopts workflow automation then eventually it will become completely automated. And not only will that mean fewer jobs, but it leaves the company open to the risk of errors where programmes malfunction and there’s no one to notice, check and repair.

As we’ve already covered, workflow automation relies on the interaction between people and software. It needs humans to run, manage and review the processes. It needs human eyes on it to ensure the processes are running as they should and make decisions about any changes that are needed.

So no, there is no current scenario whereby adopting workflow automation in your workforce will transform it completely into a machine-dominated business at the expense of human employees.

3) Adopting workflow automation is expensive

This simply isn’t true. There are so many different types of workflow automation you can adopt, with varying price points. And yes, you can spent a fortune having bespoke systems designed and built for you. You can also invest in complex processes that will drastically overhaul large parts of your business, that may require specialist hardware.

But the key word here is ‘invest’. Because any workflow automation should ultimately save a business money by streamlining their processes and making the company more streamlined and efficient. So even if you do decide to spend on an expensive system, it should save you more than you have outlaid.

And you don’t need to spend a lot of money if you don’t wish to or can’t afford to. You can easily adopt workflow automation for very little money, or even for free. Many systems have a free entry point in which you can use basic features without investing anything. And as you grow, you can subscribe to plans with more functionality.

Many companies offering workflow automation have a tiered structure that enables business of all sizes to access their benefits and use them to save time, money and effort and grow their sales.

4) You need special training to run workflow software

Many people shy away from adopting workflow automation because their assume it’s going to be complicated to set up and use, with a steep learning curve. They assume you need to be ‘techy’ or undergo special training to use it.

But this isn’t the case. Most software has been developed with usability in mind, and is simple to set up and use. So even without training or a natural inclination or experience in using technology you can happily embrace the benefits of workflow automation for your business. It also means that it’s easy to bring in new employees and have them using the system quickly.

5) It will eliminate any mistakes

Nothing in this world can guaranteed to be 100% perfect all the time. And workflow automation is no different. However great software may be designed and however strenuously it may be tested, there is always the capacity for mistakes to happen. For errors to occur or something to go wrong in the operation.

So while workflow automation can save you time and effort, it’s a mistake to rely on it without checking that it’s running as planned. It will also often need to ‘talk to’ other technologies, and sometimes this communication can break down.

This is one reason why it’s still important to have human eyes on your workflow automation systems. You need people to check that it’s working as it should and made decisions on any changes that need to happen.